With Dust and Dirt ‘Swept Away’ Showcases Beauty and Explores Profound Issues

NEW YORK—Turns out soil and dirt are inspiring creative materials. “Swept Away: Dust, Ashes and Dirt in Contemporary Art and Design” marries traditional techniques with unusual materials. The show includes 34 works by artists from around the world who used the materials in both predictable and surprising ways—a graphic installation highlights the color transitions in soil samples from all five New York buroughs and dust and sand help form amazing sculptures.

The exhibit is on view at the Museum of Arts and Design from Feb. 7 to Aug. 12, 2012.

All photos by Arts Observer

Above, Set of nine smoked glass bottles (glass bottles, ash) by Jim Dingilian (US). Top of page, “Ash Army No. 1,” 2008 by (incense ash, steel, wood) by Zhang Huan (China); in background, “Unfurling Splendor (Adaptation IV),” 2012 (dust, PVA glue) by Catherine Bertola (UK).

Jim Dingilian creates nature and urban landscapes in bottles by smoking them and wiping away the ash with skewers and needles.

“Correlation Drawing/Drawing Correlations,” (soil, Plexiglass boxes divided into eight sections) by Margaret Boozer (US) includes soil samples from all five New York buroughs surveyed over the past 15 years.

A diagram on the wall maps the installation indicating where each borough—Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten Island—is represented on the grid.

The grid of translucent boxes highlights the variety of hues found in the soil samples, which taken together create a beautiful artistic installation.

Detail of “The Delusion of Grandeur,” 2011 (raw earth and wood) by Phoebe Cummings (UK).

“The Delusion of Grandeur, 2011.”

Detail of “The Persistence of Modernism,” 2012 (dirt, found office furniture) by James Croak (US).

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